Coffee is a fundamental part of food culture around the world. Over the past few years, the coffee industry has changed drastically for a variety of reasons.
The coffee category is increasingly being named a functional natural beverage set as more and more scientific research is released that confirms its varied health benefits. Functional coffee is comprised of products (like coffee grounds or ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages), that have been fortified with vitamins or minerals that didn’t already exist in the coffee.
Some general trends currently in the coffee industry include:
Young people want their coffee on the go and in an attractive package, but coffee drinkers in general are moving toward higher-quality, gourmet coffee. Nowadays, there is a nearly endless selection of coffee from all over the world that wouldn’t have been available a few decades ago.
Consumers have been more attentive to social justice in recent years, which has increased the demand for fair trade coffee. Fair trade is primarily focused on improving the lives and business of coffee producers by guaranteeing their fair pay and ethical treatment. Coffee consumers are looking for this certification more often when purchasing in order to support the Fair-Trade standard.
With concerns for the Earth and warming temperatures, customers have been seeking out coffee beans that have been sustainably grown. This means that the coffee beans must be grown organically and without causing deforestation, land erosion, or water erosion. The support of sustainable growers has been increasing steadily over the past few years and is projected to keep increasing.
Cold Brew Coffee and Drinks
Cold brew coffee is stronger than traditionally brewed coffee while also cutting down a lot of the bitter and acidic flavors. Because the bitterness and acidity are reduced, additional ingredients can be added to produce new and different flavours of cold brew. Products like cold brew sodas may also begin to appear in coffee shops and grocery stores soon.
Nitro coffee is a cool new trend that branched out of the craft brewing craze. It’s a specialty drink that involves infusing coffee with nitrogen gas. The result is a rich and creamy texture as well as carbonation that is similar to porters and stouts, which are also pumped with nitrogen. An added benefit of nitro coffee is that it is very strong. Many companies now sell it in cans that you can find in grocery stores and gas stations, making it much more portable.
Following new dietary trends, buttered coffee has stepped into the forefront of what’s new in the coffee industry. Buttered coffee includes just a little bit of butter or coconut milk as a vehicle for healthy fats. This is especially popular in the Keto diet. The butter helps give the coffee drinker an energy boost without the typical caffeine crash, while also keeping them full longer.
Coffee cocktails are appearing on various menus for a fun twist to the traditional drink. Espresso martinis, Irish coffees, cold brew gimlets, flat white martinis, and even black coffee lagers are just a few of the cocktails you can expect to become the norm.
All said, the coffee industry will continue to do well. For as long as people demand access to higher-quality beans, and coffee shops continue to expand their menu and try out new and interesting techniques, the category is primed for both innovation and growth.
Written by Natasha Decarie, Marketing Coordinator at Tree of Life Canada